A beginners question on frame

I never ment to step on your swing toes Albanaich... I didn't say that WCS was Salsa. I said it had some resemblence to crossbody salsa. I've been trying to play with some of the salsa turns in Lindy and mostly it doesn't work. I've tried the Cuban turns with a guy because that is what we are best at. It looks bad... alot because of the circular motion of the cuban style where the two dancers seldom travel in opposite directions but when I saw WCS I came to think of crossbody salsa.
The LA-style salsa is influenced by Jazz. Also some of the shine steps used are basic jazz, keeping the names of the jazz steps, eg the SusieQ, even though they are pretty different from the original. Also a crossbody lead can have more or less of the bouncy feeling we've been discussing in a swing out. I'll keep my experiments to myself so as not to offend you anymore ;)
 
Please don't keep your thoughts to yourself!!! I was only expressing an opinion. Maybe I've been in too many 'flame-wars'. My message board experience on usenet pre-dates the internet.

Nothing you post could possibly offend me :) but do expect a straight of the cuff opinion. . .

You can put Salsa into WCS, usually in the form of a hip wiggle on the anchor, if you like you can even put Tango bolero's (I know a Tango dancer who does this) in on the anchor. WCS is after all an improvised dance.

Crossbody Salsa is a lot like WCS in that it has the same linear structure, but I don't see how you can fit the Salsa timing and styling in without creating a different dance.

The point I was making is that basic timing of Salsa and Swing are in opposition, you can try and put different styling into Swing, but you can't change the timing.

From a technical point of view 'that bouncy feeling' as you step out is deprecated in WCS and not encouraged in the Lindy I've done - there is a 'bounce' but its on the anchor and turns, not on the steps.

If you want to try messing about with fusing and improvisation using different dance forms - try Modern Jive, its the ultimate 'fusion' dance and can look like Lindy, Salsa, or even Tango depending on who teaches and what your experience is.

You can do all sorts of things in MJ because it has a fluid time signature.

I'd love to hear how your experiments work out. . . .
 

kayak

Active Member
Since we already have four different topics going in this thread .... We don't have Ceroc/Modern Jive in the part of the US I live in, what makes it easier? It looks like being good at it would take the same lead/follow skills as other partner dances?
 
Yes Steve, it is Boleo :) not Bolero

LA Salsa is a style of Salsa that is danced in a slot,

http://www.metacafe.com/watch/180986/salsa_los_angeles_style/

Kayak, Modern Jive (aka Ceroc, Leroc, French Jive) is the definitive 'learners dance'. At the beginner level footwork is not taught at all, its all about upper body arm and body leads.

Essentially its about teaching lead and follow first and dance (as in steps, moves) second. An experienced dancer (of whatever form) will pick the basics of MJ up in about 40 minutes, a good newcomer lead will be compentent on the floor social dancing after about 4 or 5 classes, starting from nothing. Followers can pick it up in a single session.

It's the base level dance that everyone can do. It works with just about any music and if you are a lead and the other person is dancer (of whatever form) you can more or less lead them without them having any knowledge of the dance.

The dance itself mutates to whatever style is the most popular locally - it can have a Salsa or Swing emphasis.

Some people have described it as a teaching method rather than dance in its own right - and there is a lot in that.

Another way to put it is a MJ dancer is confident lead/follow first and a dancer second. The generally reaction of a follow, or teacher who has not encountered a MJ lead is 'Where did you learn to lead like that!'

It's not a dance challenge in terms of technique - it is however absolutely amazing as a non-intimidating introduction to dance. It's gone a long way to reviving the 'dance hall' scene of the 1950's in the English speaking world outside the USA - its also big business.

You end up with 'two tier' dance system, most of the social dancers and those who are not willing to put the effort into dance practice ending up on the MJ circuit while there is seperate 'advanced' dancers circuit.

For some reason its never really taken off in the USA, inspite of a number of attempts, I think because there is a much larger base of Swing and Salsa dancing at a higher technical level. The people who would make up a hard core of good MJ dancers go straight to or are already in Swing or Salsa.
 

Steve Pastor

Moderator
Staff member
Although you have lots of company in thinking that WCS shouldn't have
'that bouncy feeling'
, I've come to believe, based on lots of reading and the following example, that this is how the dance is taught and thought of, rather than something inherent in the dance.

Get hip and Dance to the Bop.

West Coast Swing (still known as Western Swing at that time) is the basis for the dancing in the rehearsal scene in “Hot Rod Gang” (1958). http://www.sd455.com/moviehotrodgang
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0051741/ Music is supplied by [[rockabilly]] musician [[Gene Vincent]]’s “Dance to the Bop”. http://rcs.law.emory.edu/rcs/ss/04/ss4463.mp3 The song alternates between very slow sections and those with the rapid pace and high energy of rockabilly.
 
It's not so much the bouncy feeling as the bouncing to every beat of the music - which is the style of Salsa and Ceroc.

I've noticed those who have come to WCS from Lindy (like me) do have a distinctive 'Windy' style of dancing both Lindy and WCS the Lindy is slotted and triple steps of WCS omitted to create a style the merges features of both dances.

I suspect this was more like the form of the original WCS, which has probably become more stylised as it has become more distant to Lindy.

As I've discussed in another thread, its hard to categorise MJ, however its impact on partner dance across the UK and Europe has been highly beneficial in bringing new people into dance - I notice from the internet that Ceroc is coming to Phoenix Arizona in the new year.

I know Ceroc is a commercial venture and commercial postings are discouraged, but it would be nice to do a post on the subject.

In a sense Ceroc is more of an interest to teachers (WCS, Salsa) than potential dancers - most teachers could learn a lot from the structure and methodology of a Ceroc evening, which is univerally copied by other dance forms (WCS, Salsa, even Tango) over this side of the pond.

If I was doing WCS in the Phoenix area I definitely turn up (and get a Taxi Dancer T shirt), because all the better MJ dances will, after a few months end up doing WCS. It's going to be a big recruiter for WCS.

It's proved a very succesful model for getting a lot of people dancing. . . ..
 
Incidentally, (and I know you are dance history buff) the Glasgow area in Scotland retained a special version of Swing known as 'Glasgow Jive' which is related to East Coast Swing and Rockabilly. There are still a few people about who can do it.

It's a sort of mix of Ballroom Jive and Lindy. Helen Tennant of the Glasgow Swing Dance society will be happy to tell you more about it if you are interested.

http://golgi.ana.ed.ac.uk/Swing/
 

kayak

Active Member
Thanks for the info on MJ. It actually makes more sense to me that there is a European form of swing/salsa that is their own rather than importing from the US. So it looks like fun and if people are having fun dancing they will keep doing it :)
 
MJ is not swing. . . .

It's a basic all purpose form of dance and its remarkably good at introducing people to dance.

The nearest thing to European Swing is Glasgow Jive, and that's more or less died out.
 

kayak

Active Member
MJ is not swing. . . .

It's a basic all purpose form of dance and its remarkably good at introducing people to dance.
Having a uniquely European dance that can modernize and adapt seems like a fun idea. WCS is basically that dance in the US, but it sounds like the learning curve is steeper. Yea, there are debates about what WCS should be (like you brought up pages ago), but it moved beyond swing music and just keeps transforming itself. I would guess waiting for WCS trends to trickle over to you takes a lot longer than new ideas in modern jive take to get around to you?
 
Well no - Swing especially Lindy has been big in Scotland for decades, and I have people from my studio going to the USA to study and compete on a regular basis. So we are pretty up to date with what is going on.

WCS has a definite form - the slot, the timing, the steps. MJ is quite different in that the teacher can make it into anything they want.

You can go to one MJ evening and find the teacher trying to introduce embellishments from the Cha-Cha and Tango and go to another find someone doing Lindy.

The MJ people themselves are quite clear about its role as an 'introduction to dance' or 'base level' dance form. A large MJ workship customarily has teachers from Tango, Ballroom and Swing all 'selling' there different dances to MJ dancers.

To give you some idea.

http://www.ceroc.com/blush/

MJ is best described as a 'starter dance' something you move on from rather than a dance form in its own right.
 
I suppose you have to understand the dance environment in the UK, Ireland and much of Europe to understand the way dance is taught.

Partner dance, taught in studio's on the US model pretty well died out in the UK and much of Europe in the 1970's (when I was in my 20's). Fortunately I had a brief encounter with Ballroom dance as a teenager (about 6 months) so I've always had an idea of what dance is about.

Ballroom was still taught but the community was isolated and very specialised, with little or no community presence. The Ballroom community in the UK is pretty elderly. . .

In the 1980's along come Salsa, MJ and Lindy - which open up dance to a younger age group. The difficulty facing the MJ people was how to get the concept of partner dance into a younger age group who had no idea what partner dance was. The focus had to be on lead and follow rather than technique. There was also the problem of how to set up a complete 'dance community' from zero. Ceroc - MJ - Leroc evolved a highly effective way of doing that.

Fascinatingly, alongside the MJ and Salsa communities, there was also a revival in traditional dance - particular Scots Ceildh dance, which is to formal folk dance what MJ is to Swing. It's danced as a social activity rather performance.

Salsa quickly picked up on the MJ model and it is generally taught in the same way, though in my experience it dominated by follows, the leading techique required being more demanding than MJ.

Swing developed independently, usually through college networks with Lindy dominant and WCS rare until the late 1990's, the same can be said of Tango.

MJ's influence was in bringing these different 'dance threads' together. Swing dancers would learn MJ because there was nothing else about, Tango, and Salsa would do the same. A community of dancers has gradually built in the major cities of the UK (most of the UK was a complete dance desert in the 1970's and 1980's) and has even reached into rural areas.

I came to MJ through American Square dance! The square dance group I was with regarded me as one of 'the young ones' (I was in my late 40's) but they knew about the MJ scene and suggested that might be a better place to look for younger, fitter partners. My reaction on encountering MJ was to refer back to my teenage ballroom experience, and I quickly realised the limitations of MJ. Once I started looking Swing was the obvious choice.
 

kayak

Active Member
Wow, thanks for the description. I still don't quite follow? How do the teachers keep students coming back if the skill set doesn't go very high and they have to move off to another dance type or place? Your description sounds kind of like the way US country western bars teach basic dance classes for free each week to build a couples dancing clientele with a wide variety of dances. The difference seems to be that there is no limit to the upward dance skills in CW programs all the way up to Worlds going on right now?
 
I think the key to it is understanding it is knowing that only about 1 in 5 or 6 people naturally dance in time.

Dance to most people is very technically demanding requiring high levels of concentration. The effort of concentrating on what you are doing destroys the relaxed pleasure of dancing.

Most people don't want or need a high skill set - they just want to move in a more or less co-ordinated way with a partner with the minimum technical input in a social environment.

The folks who have any ability - the 15% or so will move on, but the vast majority stay with MJ. I've brought a number of (quite good) MJ dancers along to WCS, but they've abandoned it because its 'too difficult', its wasn't that they couldn't do it, but rather they had no interest in making the effort.

MJ/Ceroc has no problem introducing dancers to other dance forms because they are absolutely confident most people will not have the ability to make the cross over.

MJ is basically dancing for people who can't dance :) Ok so there are some very skilled MJ dancers - but they are the exception rather than the rule.

Locally, all the MJ instructors have a speciality in a different dance form to MJ. Ballroom, Swing, Tango, Salsa, MJ (although they are very good at it) is not their dance of choice.

It's a two tier dance system. . . .
 
Also remember MJ is structured so it is 75% a 'dance hall' environment rather than teaching environment.

Depending on the music people will do Salsa, WCS, Lindy and MJ all on the one floor.
 

kayak

Active Member
Cool, thanks for the descriptions. The idea is intriguing. With a two tier system, avoiding snobbery within the dance community seems like it would be hard?

I love music that gives the dancing couple a choice to pick whichever dance they think will fit best :)
 

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